But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him!
There is a term that is seldom, if ever, heard in Christian circles today and that is the crucified/risen life. When you look at the general state of the church, this makes a lot of sense that it would be absent. The more I myself look around, the more I am convinced that the church to a large degree is simply acting like a bunch of meat puppets; prettied up flesh trying to be spiritual.
I have sat down for coffee with brothers and sisters in the Lord and just listened for hours; I would sit quietly and just allow God to talk to me through these wonderful saints. There was something that happened when they spoke that caused me to know that my talking time was on hold for the moment. It wasn’t their type-A personality or conversation generalship that caused me to be quiet and listen and it wasn’t their tone or immense skill in crafting a story that kept me spellbound; it was something else, just behind the words; I call it the echo of eternity.
The echo of eternity only happens when you listen to the voice of someone that could be called the living faithful departed; those who are in essence God’s living dead. Their flesh is no longer polluting their words and you are in contact with a spirit that has been in the presence of God. Sadly, it is quite rare nowadays to listen to someone and hear the echo of eternity in their voice, it really is hard to find people whose flesh has died and Jesus shines through who they are and what they do because true holiness is just not taught anymore. But there can be no higher call in the Christian life than Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I believe that the heart of the difficulty for today’s Christian in living a Galatians 2:20 life comes from the fact that we are so used to perfecting all that we do in the flesh. We talk of holiness as an act that we accomplish by our own efforts. We push standards of behavior or dress or social rights and wrongs and put them into either the “holy” or “unholy” box. But holiness that is achieved through an act of your will carries with it the natural inclination to feel pride in your accomplishment or worse, the compulsion to judge others by what they are doing that you no longer do yourself.
In short; holiness achieved through self-effort is flesh whereas true holiness is not about getting better, it’s about getting deader. This is a secret that sadly most are painfully unaware of in today’s modern church world.
You see, you can’t pretty up a corpse and present it as a bride and Christianity is not about cleaning yourself up- that’s religion. Christianity has one solution and one solution alone to everything Adam: “Away with him!” Modern grace says that God does not care about holiness and it usually says this as a knee-jerk reaction to someone having abused them with man’s religious standards. But holiness is of the utmost importance to God, without it no one can even see him.
We have come so far from what the old saints knew that holiness has become another word for legalism today. This is the fault of people who saw the form of religion on the outside and aped it with their flesh without knowing the heart of the matter. Then they imposed dress codes and outward standards of behavior so that you would be “holy” in their sight. What they did not know was that in the old tradition the style of dress was simply an outward manifestation of an inward working; they dressed that way because that was who they were on the inside first. True holiness is not about what you show on the outside, it is about the change that has occurred on the inside which then must shine out into every other facet of your life. God changes your “want to” in your inner man and that is then reflected in your outer man.
Today the meat puppet Christians cry out for freedom. They want to be free to do what they want, when they want because Jesus loves them just as they are. But friends, our greatest freedom as Christians is the freedom from sin, we just don’t want that freedom. Instead we want the freedom to be ourselves, the freedom to have our quirks and pet sins, the freedom to sin and have a mediator between us and God who understands why we do what we do and loves us anyway. But isn’t the greater freedom the freedom to be loosed from the bondage of Adam and be transformed into the image of Christ? We have this strange gratitude towards God that looks for all the world like the kind of gratitude that a heroin addict feels when they are given money from someone that they have burned 50 times in the past. They will cry and spout their undying love and appreciation knowing full well that they are going to take advantage of them again in the future. And we are so grateful for the forgiveness that takes away the sting of guilt and we promise and promise that we are all done and inside we know that we have pulled one over on God yet again.
And we call this love and devotion.
True holiness begins at one point and one point only. It can not be gained by self effort or prayer for deliverance. It begins at 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” This is the exact point where true maturity and true holiness begins: when it is no longer about you. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is where true Christianity begins: on the cross and in the grave.
For the world, crucifixion and death are ends but for us they are only a beginning. And we all must start there, staring up at that horrible cross and down into that bottomless tomb knowing full well in our hearts that we are accepting a one way ticket and that we are never to return from that journey. God stands at the start of this trip and requires us to check all of our baggage at the door, not just asking for us to make a little decision for Christ. We are under some delusion that says that God takes all of our bad traits and crucifies them and then accentuates our strong points but nothing could be further from the truth. There is no good in you and never has been! The only good in you is Christ and that is all that God wants to have alive in your life; you no longer living but Christ living in you.
God isn’t interested in your cleverness, your IQ, your communicative ability, your singing voice or your managerial skills. When we bring those things before God he has only one sentence and ironically it is the exact same sentence that the people passed upon his son: “Away with him!” Away with your strengths, away with your morality, away with your good traits dripping with Adamic infection that you weakly present in homage to the terrible majesty of the God of the universe!
Away with it, onto the cross and into the grave with it all!
And in return, he gives us the only life that has ever mattered on this planet- the life of his Son. This is the only life that matters, friends. No amount of teaching can counteract the lack of this in your life. No amount of speaking in tongues, preaching, sharing, giving or loving can make up for the lack of the crucified/risen life in your life.
And the world can feel the difference, I promise you.